A right Royal result..

Brecks within a foot of Doyle, who was presumable about to collapse into a heap on the floor.  Diving git.

Brecks within a foot of Doyle, who was presumably about to collapse into a heap on the floor. Diving git.

Reading – 0
Nottingham Forest – 1

The happy sight of Guy Moussi vigourously joining in the pre-match warm up session was counterbalanced before the match by the sight of Joel Lynch also returning to the starting line up.  Forest started with Smith in goal, Lynch, Wilson, Morgan and Chambers in defence, Moussi, Cohen and McGugan in midfield with Anderson and Tyson out wide, and Earnie up front on his own (at least, this is what they appeared to do most of the time).  Optimism wasn’t exactly high amongst the fans, but spirits were quite good regardless.

First half started as many of us feared – Doyle did well to get the ball to Kebe after just two minutes, who somehow conspired – with all the time in the world – to drag his shot horribly wide.  Shortly after former Forest player Gunnarsson headed over after a good run into the box from a mere six yards.  It was looking alarmingly like a case of when Reading were going to score rather than if.  Although Forest had a few chances too, Earnie flicked a throw-in to Anderson whose shot was on target if not particularly challenging for the Reading ‘keeper.

Smith had a couple of saves to make from Rosenior and Matejovsky, with Morgan on hand to scramble away following the save.  Tyson had been down injured a few times and finally was withdrawn having tried to play on after half an hour with Garath McCleary replacing him – and (unrelated, I might add) – this heralded Forest starting to get more into the game.  McCleary worked himself into a decent position but could only shoot over.  Cohen was a little late in releasing Earnie who was forced wide by Pearce before blasting over.

So half time, 0-0.  A shade on the fortunate side, but we’d offered decent opponents – and it was great to see the Moose back on the pitch giving our midfield some much needed muscle.  Cautious pessimism was very much the order of the day, particularly for those in the away end able to see the half time scores coming in – because results elsewhere weren’t, and indeed didn’t, really do us many favours today.  So whilst before the game I would’ve taken a draw gratefully, it was looking increasingly like that wouldn’t really do considering results elsewhere.

The second half started very much brightly from a Forest perspective – probably the best move of the game so far saw Moussi find McGugan, who in turn found Anderson whose pass to Cohen gave him an opening on the edge of the area.  He opted for a curler rather than a blast – it was headed for the top corner and brought a great save from Federici at the expense of a corner for the Reds.  Which predictably didn’t really come to much, however, there wasn’t long to wait for the breakthrough we – whilst weren’t expecting – were secretly hoping for.

Lewis had the ball at his feet on the right hand side, cutting inside a defender before calmly finding the bottom corner of the net with his left foot past the despairing dive of Federici.  The goal clearly filled Lewis with confidence, as he became much more involved in the game and caused Reading a fair few problems – which is why it was surprising when he was replaced by Matt Thornhill.  I’ve since learned he was apparently suffering a slight injury, then that makes it fair enough!

Forest started to characteristically defend deeper and deeper and deeper as the half wore on – although there were some interludes of lovely midfield passing we’ve so missed recently – and it was nerve wracking.  Reading fans were oddly tetchy over perfectly normal amounts of time being taken over throw-ins (indeed, they neatly overlooked the blatant abuse of their multi-ball system that was occurring before they were losing), and somehow the referee found five minutes of added time.  Breckin came on for Earnie whilst we were preparing to defend a corner.

After what seemed like an eternity, the referee blew the whistle and the celebrations started properly – it was a good feeling, the players and management team joined us and frankly, it’s moments like that that make all the travelling, expense and hassle worthwhile.  A cracking performance by the lads – if I were to pick a man of the match it would be between Moussi and Wilson (who I’m normally quick to criticise), both stood out today, I think the Moose edged it.  Although nobody had a bad game – including the oft maligned Joel Lynch, who I thought performed very well.

Reading between the whines..

Sometimes you just think of a headline you just can’t resist, it’s apt too.  Woe is the world of a Forest fan as ever – there was an excellent empassioned piece on LTLF about falling out of love with Forest.  To be honest, I can relate strongly to that – my frequency of updates has gone right down, and whilst one could churn out repetitive moans, it seems a bit overly negative.  The other interesting piece over there was an account of that fateful day at Hillsborough – with the 20th anniversary of the disaster coming up it’s bound to become a topic of conversation.  Generally a conversation that is best avoided, in my experience.

And then, of course, in between the grumbles and moans we have a trip to the Madejski Stadium to contend with.  Rumours around there being freezes on signings, Billy falling out with everyone in sight, compounded by residual pain of the Derby game (for those of you with a strong constitution, this video/song created by a Derby fan actually did make me chuckle a bit – also gutted as that’s one of my favourite songs that will now be mentally associated with the pie muncher).  Well done Kev Moore, whoever you are. 

So, Reading.  Remember the first game of the season?  We played Reading and it was difficult to tell which side had come up from League One and which side had come down from the Premiership.  Well, our seasons have somewhat diverged in perhaps a predictable manner since then.  Having said that, whilst our recent run is all too familiar too us, Reading are potentially in the midst of a slight wobble themselves – two wins, two draws and two defeats in their last six – no win in their last three means the Royals will be keen to make up ground on Wolves and Birmingham.  Victory in their two games in hand will put them top of the league.

Coppell has already suggested the game is ‘huge’ – whereas Billy is still very much using defeatest language in his latest charm offensive on the official Forest website.  Not that I’m as down on Billy as some fans seem to be – I get the distinct feeling he has been sold a lemon given our appalling showing in the January transfer window.  I’m not sure why the powers-that-be seem to have held back on cash available, but the whisperings I hear suggest that is what has happened – leaving Davies in the unenviable position of not really being able to add the much needed bodies to the squad that we need.

Given his reputation for fractious relationships with boards, it could be an interesting time of it.  Certainly the silence from the Forest board is deafening – I don’t think it is unreasonable for us to expect to hear from Mark Arthur or Nigel Doughty, to expect an explanation for another bungled transfer window – to understand whether there are funds in place to secure loan signings or whether Billy is just being trotted out to toe the party line on this score too.  I can understand why he comes across as defensive about his culpability, to be honest.

But anyway, Reading.  I shall be amongst the unfortunates in the away end at the Madejski Stadium, rather than go for mobile blog posts – which I don’t think have really been much kop in the times I’ve tried them – I think I’ll stick with Twitter for updates, so get following me on there and I’ll endeavour to update with something cheerful.  Or more bleak moaning, more likely!

McSheffrey, Kenny Burns and stuff..

McSheffrey: Serious target or wishful thinking?

McSheffrey: Serious target or wishful thinking?

That there McSheffrey rumour is doing the rounds again, the winger/striker is recovering from a knee injury and therefore it is thought that Birmingham City would be amenable for him to go out on loan.  Which makes sense.  Indeed, they might even be keen to get him with us in time for him to perhaps positively benefit Forest against their automatic promotion rivals Reading this weekend.  Or, of course, our transfer committee might get themselves involved and kebab the whole deal.

Burnsy has laid into the players in the aftermath of Saturday’s embarrassing result – he makes some good points, whilst perhaps missing the bigger picture.  However, perhaps my lenience on the players was a little over-kind – after all, there was only one player’s difference between the team that lost on saturday and the one that beat Manchester City.  Meanwhile, at the other end of the A52 it seems that young Nigel is still quite fond of us, and needed reminding whose side he was on at the weekend.

In a departure from past contributions, I actually wrote something specifically for Left Lion rather than just rehashing a summary of content from the blog – so if you really want to endure more comment about that game, then click here.  The other thing I meant to mention is that the blog has been nominated for a couple of awards – best blog, and best writer – as have a number of other Forest sites, which is great – so feel free to pop along and vote for your preference (although the voting process does appear to be a bit of a ballache).

And finally, if anybody has any advice on suitable (clean) responses to a number of emails sitting in my work email from Sheep-bothering colleagues, then it would be much appreciated!

Billy set to take on the charts..

As well as taking on Forest’s ineffective transfer committee, it seems that Billy is set to battle on another front too – the music charts!  A new single – the proceeds of which will go to the ‘Billy Davies Second to None Foundation‘ – is available from all good record stores and iTunes.  It is a cover of a song by Shaggy, and is sure to help clarify matters on exactly where things are going wrong at the City Ground these days, and whose fault it is (or rather, whose fault it isn’t!).   Look out for it from Monday 23rd February 2009.

billy_single

Billy planning on rocking the boat?

Forests transfer policy for potential managers...

Forest's transfer policy for potential managers...

If The Sun is believed (which let’s face it, it largely isn’t), then Billy Davies appears to be quickly reaching an accord with a chunk of supporters who seem to tend toward Mark Arthur and/or the much-maligned transfer-committee as the cause of our woes.  And in fairness, I think he has a point – he should have control of player acquisitions – including negotiating the financials.  Certainly it would be fair that he has to work to a budget, that upper limits on wages be placed – but he should be able to out and buy people, shouldn’t he?

Of course, the flipside of this is that we have a manager who’s been here barely a month and he’s already publically slamming the constraints within which he works – constraints which presumably must have been discussed in the (what I suspect was a fairly lengthy) courtship between him and the board before being appointed.  Being interested in football and contemplating taking the Forest job, he must have researched what a damp squib all of our transfer windows seem to be – he must have been expecting these things.

In many ways disharmony isn’t good, but clearly the system that our club operates for transfers doesn’t work in our interests at the moment, with burgeoning rumours that our club is increasingly seen as a bunch of chancers by our peers, offering derisory amounts for players – this is damaging, and could affect future deals with these people.  So perhaps Billy kicking off about this might just prove to be a good thing.  There has to be some good news somewhere, right?  (Thanks to Alan Wood for pointing me at the story).

Worst game in history?

Billy: You and the board have a lot to answer for

Billy: You and the board have a lot to answer for


Nottingham Forest – 1
Derby County – 3

Let’s be honest, it was a dreadful game of football between two dreadfully poor sides, the problem is our side was more dreadfully poor than our opponents, by some margin.  The referee was rubbish, but not in a match-changing way, our inability to deal with set pieces did for us – the first goal saw our defenders looking like statues, the second a barely-contested header in the box, the third – well, Hulse dived like a good ‘un, but there was contact, so it probably was a penalty.  All in all, a shameful afternoon.

The players tried, I don’t doubt that – Earnshaw and Anderson were clearly not even vaguely fit but tried hard, Tyson worked his nuts off – the sad fact is that as a collective, they weren’t good enough.  Davies lamented our small squad, our lack of bodies, the spending power of our opponents.  Hang on, last time I checked we spent £2.6m on a single player in the summer – we have spent big, just on too few players.  Frankly, this result – which feels like a new low – is because of the club’s abject failure to strengthen in January, something they said they would do.

We had a record of no defeat on Nottingham soil to them for 30 years, that has been blown away twice in a matter of weeks.  That is not good enough, regardless of the size of their squad, regardless of our injuries, regardless of whatever other excuses reel easily from the tongue.  It is not good enough.  Billy Davies, Mark Arthur, and Nigel Doughty – you all owe us fans big time for this humiliation you have inflicted upon us.

Upon leaving the ground I had taken some solace in the fact that with ten minutes to go we’d come back into the game, we’d got a goal back – Perch really should’ve had one, and we could have really battled for an equaliser.  It wasn’t until getting back into my car that I realised – with a little help from Robin Chipperfield (yeah, thanks a lot Robin!) that with ten minutes to go, Derby withdrew a player through injury and played on with ten men.  How bloody depressing.

As much as I’d like to, I can’t begrudge them the win – the better team on the day won, marshalled well by Savage, and Hulse upfront demonstrated painfully the kind of presence we lack up front – particularly if we wish to continue pumping long balls forward.  This is a dark day for Forest fans, and with the relegation zone looming large again just behind us, it is perhaps the beginning of many more, how we have managed to go from a promising side with an injury crisis to such a shambles is anyone’s guess – but it doesn’t feel good being a Forest fan right now.

Do you know what the really crazy thing is?  I’ve agreed to go down to Reading next week with a pal, as well!

Forest vs. Derby preview – anyone actually looking forward to it?

Come on you Reds, shove those cutting words down Billy Davies’ throat and prove him wrong tomorrow.

Please.

I can’t say I’m particularly looking forward to the match, which does kind of underline the fickle nature of being a football fan – but well, seeing them for the umpteenth time in a few weeks after such a long break is somewhat overkill.  Also seeing their first win at the City Ground in decades was rather irksome.  Coupled with our diverging recent runs of results and well, I imagine one end of Brian Clough Way is feeling distinctly more confident than the other.

Whilst it was quite shocking to hear Davies laying into the squad, having pondered it on and off for a day or so it’s hard to argue too much with him – and let’s face it, it’s no worse (indeed, a lot more complimentary!) than what many fans come out with either in the stands or on the message boards.  Perhaps it will prove to be a motivating message that spurs them on.  We’re still in makeshift mode, Garner joins Earnshaw on the treatment table leaving Tys as our only fit striker of any vague degree of first team calibre, Moussi and Anderson – whilst back, aren’t fit to start I wouldn’t have thought.

On the oppoent front, I’m sure we’ve all noted who has been on form for them.  Slightly more positive news is that Teale is out, who was complicit in two of their goals in our most recent encounter, as is Addison who we’d probably like less if it weren’t for the sterling work of Stuart Attwell in our earlier league encounter at the Sheep Bowl.

I suppose at least the early kick off gives plenty of time for sorrow drowning, no, sorry, must be more positive – celebrating? Perhaps.  I’m definitely not looking forward to it.